Happy Birthday to My Adopted City
Today is St. Petersburg's 315th Birthday
Now that the fireworks around the city have finished, I decided to write a little bit about the city. I know I do this often, but I realized that I haven't really given some of the incredible details about the city's creation and it's importance to Russian history.
St. Petersburg was created out of the swampland that surrounded the Neva River Delta following Russia's victory over Sweden in the area then named Ingria. The first buildings erected were the Peter and Paul Fortress which lies inland on the Neva a few miles from the Gulf of Finland (which connects to the Baltic Sea).
Peter the Great named it the capital of Russia a few years later and forced the nobility of Russia to maintain a residence in the city. In order to spur construction in the city, no stone buildings were allowed in the whole of Russia. This forced all the stone masons in the country to move to the city to find work. Additionally, Peter brought German and Dutch engineers to the city to aid in its construction.
The Admiralty on the Neva River side. Notice the flag of St. Andrew with the Admiralty's Crest
Under his instructions, the swamps were drained and the city was built starting with the admiralty and ship works after the initial construction of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Peter intended for the city to be a gateway to Europe and the sea for the Russian Empire, which at the time had no Western ports in the North. Russia built a large navy and used its base of St. Petersburg in its eventual defeat of the Swedish Navy.
Some interesting facts about the city that I haven't discussed previously in my posts (read the old posts for some great info):
Merchant ships were charged a tax of stone in order to find harbor in the city and trade. The stone was needed for the continual construction of the city.
Peter also initiated the creation of a series of fortifications in the Gulf of Finland known as Kronstadt. This is not only 1 island but a series of islands that have protected the city since it's founding.
The Neva flows from Lake Ladoga, which is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world (often referred to as a sea because of its size). It is the largest lake entirely in Europe and the 14th largest in the world. Most importantly, it is the site of my annual BBQ.
With the opening of the Neva River to the Baltic Sea, Peter was able to create a contiguous waterway from the Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas in the south and the White Sea in the North. In this way goods can travel the entire length of European Russia.
One of the most popular (and expensive) places to live in the city is on the English Embankment which runs along the Neva River's Southern shore. It is so named because it was the street where the British Ambassador lived and the site of the English Church (and still is). The British were early participants in the diplomatic affairs of Russia (less so now). It is also my favorite place to go to watch #6.
Every year to celebrate the graduation of students from high school and university, the city holds a spectacular demonstration named Scarlet Sails in conjunction with several other events. During the event, a ship sails down the Neva completely lit up in dark red while a humongous fireworks display is set in place. Graduation is a big deal to everyone in the country. The event is named after an extremely popular children's book by the same name and is a long standing tradition in the city. About a million people or more attend every year in St. Petersburg.
The official Ensign of the Russian Navy is the flag of St. Andrew. It was made so by Peter the Great's orders and remained so until the Russian Revolution in 1917. However, it returned to the Russian Navy in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Once again, happy birthday to the city that I love -St. Petersburg.
С днем рождения Питер! Мы пьем вам.
graphic by @habeebability
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